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Comment: Community Care coronavirus survey of social workers

Rachael Wardell, Chair of the Workforce Development Policy Committee said:

“The whole workforce has been under immense pressure since the outbreak of the pandemic and supporting their health and wellbeing is a priority for all employers. Whilst the pandemic has changed the way we are all working, it hasn’t changed our focus on meeting the needs of children and their families. Local authority staff have had to adapt to new working arrangements, such as home working, in a short space of time and during very difficult circumstances. However, in many cases we still need to see children face to face, so social workers and others have been conducting socially distanced home visits or meeting in other spaces where social distancing can be maintained. As employers we do not underestimate the challenges practitioners are facing because of the pandemic, not least because their care for the children and families they support sits alongside the concerns they will have about their own safety and that of their own family.

The learning from the past year has been valuable in establishing sound working practices throughout local and national restrictions. However, we know that for some members of our workforce, the transition to remote working has been difficult as well as the long-term impact of being away from friends and colleagues. Councils are doing all they can to put in place the necessary support to make this easier. Many have implemented a range of innovative practices to support staff mental health and wellbeing, for example by introducing mindfulness courses, encouraging daily exercise, or regular social interaction with colleagues via online platforms.

Although referrals to children’s social care reduced considerably at the start of lockdown, they have now returned to pre-pandemic levels, or above in many areas. The real impact of Covid-19 on vulnerable children is only now starting to become apparent. We anticipate that the number of children and families requiring our support will significantly increase over the next year and beyond, with a greater complexity of need. Before Covid-19, councils across the country were struggling to recruit and retain enough high quality social workers to manage existing workloads. We also need to consider the fatigue that many of our workforce are already experiencing and which will also increase as we face our peak. This reinforces the need for a national recruitment and retention campaign which emphasises the positive work that social workers do and their key role in responding to Covid-19.”


The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) Ltd is the professional leadership association for Directors of Children’s Services and their senior management teams in England.

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